Keeping busy and maintaining a routine seems to be the best option to help some Kildare families survive the current Covid-19 restrictions.
As a nation, we are a social lot with sport and the great outdoors a huge form of relaxation.
Now it's down to a 2km exercise route and basically, staying home to stay safe. Children and parents now in a 24 hour shutdown – how do we stay sane, reduce tensions and survive the close proximity over the coming weeks, months even?
For the Skelton family of Eadestown, it's a case of having lots of variety during the day for sons Peter (10) and Nathan (8). Mum Jenni says it's all about having structure and keeping busy.
“After only a week, many families were finding it hard to tolerate one another. But we don't all have to be out and about to keep ourselves occupied. What works for us is having a daily structure/routine – and lots of fun!
“The boys know they won't get screen time till evening so we walk the dogs every morning first, and we have three dogs: Sossy, Muffin and Lulu. Then it's school work till lunch. We're logging onto 'twinkl' website – it's a learning resource, with great ideas for projects and incentives.
“Last week, the boys did a project on ancient Rome which kept them busy. Their teacher at Killashee primary school has designated school work so up to lunchtime, that's their lot. After that, it's 'jobs'! I can't believe what they've done already – they regularly do garden work, they've cleared moss outside and they've painted the shed”.
Jenni ruefully noted that she didn't realise how much she did herself until the great shutdown occurred. “Like most mothers on the go, it was always quicker to pick up after them myself. Now Nathan knows how to make an omelette, they both know how to use the washing machine and they're making their own beds. Why wasn't I doing this years ago!”
Husband Andrew is a geologist who travels abroad regularly to work but was grounded when the first health restrictions were introduced. “He works from 5am-3pm in his office so it's great that we now get to spend more family time together,” added Jenni.
Donna Barrett of Ballymore Eustace has four children aged from 5 up to 17 years. Donna continues her online sales business from home so no change for her whilst husband Peter continues to work in the retail industry.
“I'm one side of the table doing my work on the laptop while my daughter Caitlin is the other side. My son Callum (15) is doing the Junior Cert and is therefore in a good routine to study and do class work. Paddy (16) is in fifth year and less inclined to study! He is, however great for doing jobs especially in the outdoors. Danny aged five years has his classwork too but I found him hiding the other day in the laundry basket trying to avoid it”
“Caitlin has completely taken over the hotpress which was a disaster and re-organised it, happy days! She is also baking like mad. We've a liking for cup cakes with butter icing so Caitlin is happily supplying us with buns and tea cakes”.
At first, Donna wondered how a family who are involved in many activities could stay sane. “The boys play soccer and gaelic, and had regular play dates with pals. Cailtin and I are in the band and have weekly rehearsals. But you know, the positives now are sitting down as a family together, it's lovely as Peter and I were always running out the door with one or the other child.
“I've introduced a print out A4 sheet this week with a listing of study times, jobs, activities, etc. As we can't see my parents in Mayo, we are doing regular Whatsapp videos to Nana and Grandad, and that's lovely too.
"The other blessing in the family is 14 year old River, who is nearly blind and deaf, she is loving the company and seeks us out all day, plus she senses food at every opportunity and requires daily walks!
I have to limit the boys use of the Xbox but Caitlin are I are enjoying a lovely time late at night watching Netflix together.
"So, for a family that has gone from being constantly on the run to staying put, the restrictions of Covid-19 has had its good points,” she concluded.